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Werner Herzog
Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Xzibit, Shawn Hatosy, Jennifer Coolidge
Writing Credits:
William M. Finkelstein, Victor Argo (earlier film, "Bad Lieutenant"), Paul Calderon (earlier film, "Bad Lieutenant"), Abel Ferrara (earlier film, "Bad Lieutenant"), Zoë Lund (earlier film, "Bad Lieutenant")

The only criminal he can't catch is himself.

In Werner Herzog's new film Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, Nicolas Cage plays a rogue detective who is as devoted to his job as he is to scoring drugs while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves (played by Eva Mendes) and together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience. The result is a singular masterpiece of filmmaking: equally sad and manically humorous.

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$291.464 thousand on 57 screens.
Domestic Gross
$1.697 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 4/6/2010

• “Photography Book: Photos by Lena Herzog” Gallery
• “The Making of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” Featurette
• Alternate Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 9, 2010)

When Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans hit cinemas in 2009, it confused the smattering of moviegoers who noticed its existence. Was it a sequel to 1992’s Bad Lieutenant? Was it a remake of that flick? Was it tale that used some aspects of the prior film’s environment/themes?

Apparently, the answer is yes/no/maybe. I never saw the original movie, but the thoughts I read came to no real conclusion about what box into which Port belonged. I get the impression it borders on remake, but the answer never becomes quite clear.

At the very least, the two share character/thematic similarities. Police sergeant Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) gets promoted to lieutenant at the same time back pain finds him hooked on painkillers and other drugs. This leads him to all sorts of wrongdoing as he seeks illegal substances.

Even while he abuses his position of powers, McDonagh performs well on the job. When someone slays a family of illegal immigrants from Africa in a drug-related homicide, McDonagh investigates. This leads him on a path toward a local gangster called “Big Fate” (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) along with a wide variety of complications related to McDonagh’s slipups.

There’s not a whole lot of story on display here, honestly. McDonagh’s investigation of the multiple murder does come to the fore, but it’s not as prominent a plot as one would expect from a standard cop drama.

Instead, Lieutenant tends to be more episodic – and surreal, to boot, as it veers toward McDonagh’s altered mental state. The film throws out occasional signs of hallucinations, though it tries to slip these past us in a moderately subtle way. We figure out what’s real and what’s not most of the time, though the neat ‘n’ tidy ending is up for grabs; I honestly don’t know if we’re supposed to view it as literal or not.

What I do know is that Lieutenant tends to be more than a bit of a mess. Perhaps some – or much – of this was intentional to mirror the chaos of McDonagh’s life, but it doesn’t really work as a filmmaking technique. We never care much about the murder investigation, and McDonagh’s personal shenanigans fail to intrigue us as well. The flick tilts from one seedy scene to another with such abandon that we don’t find ourselves very interested in the events.

It doesn’t help that McDonagh is a weird character without much else to him. As played by Cage, the role is all over the place; even his accent doesn’t stay consistent. Again, I expect some of this was intentional; McDonagh uses a lot of different drugs, and those would affect him in various ways. Cage tends to overplay these effects, though, so he just seems over the top.

Which isn’t unusual for Cage, as he built a career on wild performances. Unfortunately, the approach doesn’t work here, largely because he never makes McDonagh interesting. When Cage chews scenery to good effect, that’s fine with me, but in this part he simply can’t add much.

All of this leaves Lieutenant as a big mush of a film. It includes so much craziness that it should be fascinating. Oddly, it goes in the other direction and actually ends up as a surprisingly dull affair.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a great transfer, the presentation usually looked good.

For the most part, sharpness was solid. However, some wide shots tended to be a little iffy. The majority of the movie offered very nice clarity, but parts lacked the fine detail I’d expect. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement wasn’t a problem. As for source flaws, I noticed a couple of small marks but nothing else.

In terms of colors, Lieutenant went with stylized tones. Usually this meant chilly “cop movie blues”, but some other tints came into action as well. These looked good and represented the intended hues well. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity. The occasional soft spots and small source flaws made this a “B”.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Lieutenant, it didn’t have a lot to offer. The soundfield accentuated music and not a lot else. Effects tended toward general ambience, as even action sequences didn't offer a ton of involving material. The soundscape was fine overall but it didn’t impress.

Audio quality usually seemed good as well, though bass was a little too active in one sense: music. The score boasted nice range overall, but when the track used quieter music, the subwoofer usage became a distraction. It often sounded like someone outside my house cranked up the sub in his car; there was this faint “thumping” that didn’t accentuate the music at all.

Otherwise, the track was fine. Speech always appeared distinctive and intelligible, and effects presented good accuracy and range. Between the lackluster soundfield and the weird bass effect, I thought this was a “C+” track.

Among the extras, we get a documentary called The Making of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. The 31-minute, 10-second show offers a “fly on the wall” perspective from the various sets. We hear impromptu remarks from director Werner Herzog and others on those locations, but those are a very minor component, as the behind the scenes footage heavily dominates.

I like this kind of material, and we get some good stuff in this program. Perhaps because the movie itself leaves me cold, the show never becomes especially interesting to me, but it still provides a decent look at the shoot. Give it a look, but don’t expect it to be especially insightful.

Next comes a gallery entitled Photography Book: Photos by Lena Herzog. This provides 108 stills and mixes shots from the flick with posed pictures; very few actual behind the scenes images appear. Herzog creates photos that’re much higher quality than the average shots from the set; most of these are downright gorgeous, so you should check out this great collection.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Triangle, Suicide Girls Guide to Living, Deadline, Monster and Command Performance. The set also includes two trailers for Lieutenant. Of particular interest is the “Alternate Trailer”, as it makes the movie look much more like a standard cop flick than it is.

An odd reworking of a 17-year-old movie, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans never coalesces into a very interesting effort. The flick tends to meander and doesn’t get its bearings well enough to consistently involve the viewer. The Blu-ray offers good picture along with mediocre sound and supplements. Despite some talent involved in the project, Lieutenant doesn’t impress.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3695 Stars Number of Votes: 46
15 3:
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